Frequently Asked Questions - Understanding Fertility

Infertility is the inability to conceive naturally despite engaging in carefully timed, unprotected sexual intercourse for over a year. Infertility as a disease has become a growing concern in India with about 10 - 15% of married couples being diagnosed as infertile. It is not gender-specific and can be caused by both male and female factors.

While there are various stigmas attached to infertility, today, with the advancement in medical science infertility can be successfully treated. Advanced reproductive techniques (ARTs) can help couple fight the underlying cause of infertility and achieve their dream of parenthood.
Not being able to conceive a child is the most common sterility symptom. A person is said to be sterile if he or she is physically incapable of ever having a child without medical intervention. In the case of men, this refers to an absence of sperm in semen and in the case of women; this refers to the nonexistence of ovulation. This may be because of birth defects such as being born without ovaries or the result of surgical intervention such as tubal ligature or a vasectomy. Here are the 3 most common myths about sterility:

Myth: Male infertility is known as sterility
Fact: Both men and women can be diagnosed as sterile.

Myth: Sterility is as common as infertility
Fact: Infertility can be considered as a type of sterility but not everyone who is diagnosed as infertile is sterile. Thus, the latter is more common.

Myth: Men who have no sperm in their semen can never father children
Fact: This is not always true. If the absence of sperm in semen is caused by a blockage, a doctor may harvest sperm directly from the testes and use the same to fertilize an egg via IVF.
A disease is defined as a disorder of function or structure. On the other hand, a medical condition simply reflects a state of health.

Infertility is caused by many factors. The risk of infertility increases with age. Thus, a woman who is infertile in her 40s may not have been infertile in her 20s. Sexually transmitted diseases, smoking and being overweight also affect fertility. In such cases, it is difficult to categorize infertility as a disease.

On the other hand, some cases of infertility may be caused by structural issues. For example, a man could have difficulty fathering a child if he has no vas deferens or a woman could find it difficult to conceive if she has severe endometriosis. In such cases, infertility can be categorized as a disease.


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